José Andrés Needs No Introduction

I talked to the do-gooder about how he ate growing up, his pivot from full-time chef to well-known humanitarian, and how the pandemic has changed him

“Behind every plate of food is a story. All together we must make sure that all the stories behind every plate of food are good stories.”

This week’s episode of Food with Mark Bittman features the fearless José Andrés, who I’m really proud to call a friend. José and I have known each other for more than 20 years; I met him when he was a protege of Ferran Adria, the chef behind El Bulli, which for years was considered the best restaurant in the world.

José came to the States as a young man, worked his way up through restaurants, opened his own restaurant, Jaleo in DC — which is still there — and now has many of them. He’s done a wonderful job of bringing Mediterranean food to the States, but he also founded World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit that brings food to people in the wake of natural disasters and does the work that FEMA often does inadequately. If there’s an earthquake, if there’s a deadly hurricane, José’s team, and often José himself, are all right there, providing tens of thousands — and often more — meals. José has won a zillion awards not only for his cooking but his humanitarian work — he was even named a Nobel Peace Prize nominee. I’m happy to have him on the show.

The recipes — both José’s — featured in the episode are below. Please listen, subscribe, and review! And remember to call us on 833-FOODPOD with all your food-related questions.

Thank you, as always. — Mark

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Santorini Lentils (Yellow Split Peas)

Serves 6
Time: 45 minutes, largely unattended

Sometimes simplest is best. Once, when I was taping my old show, How to Cook Everything: Bittman Takes on America’s Chefs, with José at Zaytinya, he sent the crew just about every small dish on the (very large) menu for lunch. Of the literally forty or fifty small plates scattered on the table, this dish was among the most appealing, a simple bowl of cooked yellow split peas (José calls them lentils) well-flavored with olive oil, lemon juice, and crunchy shallots. It's easy to make, and even José acknowledges that it's good when made with ordinary lentils or split peas; of course, if you can find Santorini split peas, use them. They may be labeled Santorini fava, but you can substitute Indian yellow dal or ordinary yellow or green split peas.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1/4 onion, chopped

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs

  • 1/4 tablespoon black peppercorns

  • 1 pound Santorini fava, yellow split peas, or yellow dal

  • 2-inch piece carrot, peeled

  • Salt and white pepper, to taste

  • 1/4 cup capers, drained

  • 2 or 3 tablespoons minced shallot

  • 1/4 cup minced fresh chives or parsley leaves

  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, or to taste

Instructions

1. Put 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a wide-bottomed pan and turn the heat to medium-high. When the oil shimmers, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Bundle the cooked onion with the bay leaf, thyme, and black peppercorns in a piece of cheesecloth and tie securely.

2. Wash the “lentils” thoroughly, then put them, the cheesecloth-wrapped aromatics, and the carrot in a medium saucepan. Add water to cover by about 3 inches. Bring to a boil and cook at a lively simmer, uncovered, until most of the water is absorbed, about 30 minutes. Turn the heat down to a minimum and cover. Cook another 10 minutes or so, then turn off the heat.

3. Discard the spice bag and the carrot, drain the lentils if necessary, and mash or semi-puree them, using an immersion blender, blender, or food processor. Season to taste with salt and white pepper. (The recipe may be made up to 1 day in advance to this point; cover and refrigerate.)

4. Warm the puree before serving, and serve warm or at room temperature, garnished with capers, shallots, chives, the remaining olive oil, and lemon juice.

Recipe from How to Cook Everything: Bittman Takes on America’s Chefs

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Red Sangria

Serves 6
Time: 15 minutes, plus 2 hours marinating time

Bolder and stronger than José's white sangria, but equally refreshing.

Ingredients

  • 2/3 bottle (about 2 cups) red wine

  • 2/3 cup cut fruit, like oranges and apples, plus extra for garnish

  • 1 shot (2 ounces) vodka, or more to taste

  • 1 shot (2 ounces) brandy, Grand Marnier, or more to taste

  • 1 shot (2 ounces) fresh orange juice

  • Splash Rose’s lime juice

  • 1 teaspoon sugar, or more to taste

  • 1 cinnamon stick

  • Ice

  • Splash Sprite

Instructions

1. Combine the wine, fruit, vodka, brandy, juices, sugar, and cinnamon stick in a pitcher and let macerate in the refrigerator for 2 hours.

2. Add ice to fill the pitcher, the splash of Sprite, and more sugar or spirits to taste. Serve in glasses garnished with additional cut fruit, if desired.

Recipe from How to Cook Everything: Bittman Takes on America’s Chefs

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